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Religions 2018, 9(12), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120404

Atheism of the Word: Narrated Speech and the Origin of Language in Cohen, Rosenzweig and Levinas

Department of Liberal and Performing Arts, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ, UK
Received: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 7 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
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Abstract

Kant marks a fundamental break in the history of philosophy of religion and the concept of God. God is no longer interpreted as a being necessary to understand the existence of a rational universe, but as an idea that makes sense of our morality. Cohen supplements this idea with the concept of personality, which he argues is the unique contribution of Judaism. For Rosenzweig and Levinas, the monotheistic God is neither a being nor an idea, but the living reality of speech. What would the atheism be that responds to this theism? Linguistics makes a distinction between direct, indirect, and free indirect speech. In the latter form, the origin of speech is not a subject, but narrated language. It is this difference between direct and indirect speech that is missing in Rosenzweig and Levinas’s description of God. It would mean that God is produced by language rather than the subject of language. What menaces the reality of God is not whether God exists, or is intelligible, but the externality of language without a subject.
Keywords: Cohen; Rosenzweig; Levinas; God; atheism; language Cohen; Rosenzweig; Levinas; God; atheism; language
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Large, W. Atheism of the Word: Narrated Speech and the Origin of Language in Cohen, Rosenzweig and Levinas. Religions 2018, 9, 404.

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